With scores of defensive players from both sides missing the game due to injury, the Packers were able to abuse the Lions in the first half of today's game on the way to a 34-27 victory. Jordy Nelson dominated, looking every bit his old self and putting up a games’ worth of stats in the first half. Matthew Stafford and company could not get untracked early and TE Eric Ebron’s lack of upper body strength turned a picture perfect Stafford strike into a Damarious Randall interception, further adding to the damage.
However, the Lions fought back in the second half, cutting a 31-3 deficit to just seven points with a few minutes left. The Packers salted away the win with some tough running late by Eddie Lacy.
Ty Montgomery did not see much time, but his beautiful knowledge and abuse of the kick-off out-of-bounds rule helped set the tone as the Packers played an exceptionally smart half, punishing the Lions for every mistake and putting four touchdowns on the board, including two to Nelson. Eddie Lacy even averaged 7 yards per carry. The only real blemish was a late bomb to Marvin Jones with 32 seconds left, but given the lead they built and the players missing, even this mistake was palatable.
Davante Adams ran a nice slant for a touchdown on his only target of the first half and Richard Rodgers scored as well and the Lions were unable to stop anything. Nelson seemed to open up the field for everyone, and the offense clicked along nicely, however it is worth noting that Lacy’s dominance indicates a Lion defense running far below capacity. Lacy is still stuttering in the backfield, still looks a bit slow, and still ripped off a huge first half anyway.
The Packers were aided by their opponents, but it this is supposed to be what happens when the Packers face a depleted Lion defense, and early on the Packers held up their end of the bargain beautifully.
Just before the end of the first half, though, the Lions struck with a 73-yard touchdown to Marvin Jones to make the score 31-10 at the half.
The second half on the other hand...We saw the Packers do something that they try far too often, and McCarthy went into his shell and attempted to run out the entire half, all while most of his defense was out with injuries. It worked just about as well as you would have guessed and the Lions slowly worked there way back into it with a steady dose of huge plays from Marvin Jones, who dominated every bit as much as Stefon Diggs the previous week. Jones had 6 catches for 205 and 2 touchdowns, and was generally unstoppable. With any support from Ebron (who is still clearly nursing an injury) or Golden Tate and the Lions might have pulled off the comeback.
As it stands Lacy’s standout performance was enough to kill the clock, but the inability of the passing game to pick up several key first downs in the second half gave me flashbacks to last week. Nelson failed to catch a pass in the second half, Adams was ineffective, Cobb was a complete non-factor, and once again, personnel packages were limited so that Montgomery and Abbrederis barely saw the field.
Without Matthews and Burnett, Nick Perry stepped up on defense creating just enough havoc in the backfield to keep the Lions at bay, and given just how beaten up the Packers were, it is not that troubling that the Lions managed to make this a game. That is, once again, on McCarthy and the offense, who allowed this one to get close through conservative play-calling, and almost lost the game.